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Win at Southport was good effort by depleted squad - Burr
11:05am Sunday 13th October 2013 in Reports
STEVE Burr insisted Kidderminster Harriers will only get better after watching his down-to-the-bare-bones squad end Southport’s unbeaten home record.
Nathan Blissett’s first goal of the season secured Harriers’ 2-1 win after Joe Lolley’s early strike had been cancelled out by James Smith’s header.
With Skrill Premier table-toppers Cambridge United being held at Chester, it meant second-placed Harriers closed the gap to six points.
Aggborough boss Burr was delighted with his team’s endeavours, particularly considering the absence of five players. They showed plenty of attacking verve, backed by a fiercely resolute defence, but he is convinced they will only get stronger as the title race continues.
“I think that at the minute we can play better, but we were down to 16 players and the sooner we get players back fit it will be a big boost,” said Burr.
“The pleasing thing is that we are getting through games and getting the three points.”
He added: “Southport were unbeaten on their own pitch so to get the win was a good effort.
“Though we’ve got a few people missing, the players who came in did well.”
That was certainly the case up-front, with Blissett, Lolley and Amari Morgan-Smith providing plenty of threat to the Sandgrounders backline, particularly in a bright and breezy beginning which matched the weather on the north-west coast.
Lolley’s direct running on the right flank is quickly becoming a feature of Harriers’ counter-attacking and, after Lee Fowler and Kyle Storer combined, the young striker’s fierce drive was tipped over by keeper Danny Hurst after three minutes.
Four minutes later, another right-sided attack reaped its reward. Morgan-Smith stretched to knock Lee Vaughan’s deep cross onto the post and Lolley snaffled up the rebound to score from eight yards.
It signalled incessant Harriers pressure, with Lee Fowler and Kyle Storer dominating midfield, but Harriers failed to test Hurst, most notably when Storer sent a shot wastefully wide from the edge of the box.
Instead, Southport seized the initiative and Karl Ledsham headed over before Harriers keeper Nathan Vaughan kept out Chris Almond’s shot and Josh Gowling blocked the follow-up.
But, on 43 minutes, Port defender Davies escaped his marker to meet James Milligan’s free-kick with a powerful header and the ball squirmed through the hands of Nathan Vaughan.
Moments later, Southport had a strong penalty appeal denied as Storer flattened Paul Rutherford but, after consulting his assistant, referee Darren Handley awarded a free-kick one yard outside the area.
“It looked a nailed-on penalty from where I was sitting,” said Port boss Alan Wright.
Southport’s sense of injustice was increased in first-half stoppage time. Another Lee Vaughan foray down the right provided an inviting cross and Blissett sent his header thundering into the net.
“It was a typical centre-forward’s finish - and I’ll take them all season,” said Blissett afterwards. “If a ball gets played into the box, I’ll get onto the end of it.”
Harriers could have made it 3-1 straight after the break, only for Jack Byrne’s radar to be a couple of yards off target with a shot from 16 yards.
But Southport became more threatening and it took two sharp saves from Nathan Vaughan to keep out Ledsham’s shot and Danny Hattersley before Port counterpart Hurst’s finger tips diverted Marvin Johnson’s angled drive inches wide.
“Southport had a lot of ball in the second half but I don’t think they really hurt us,” added Burr. “With a little better passing, I think we were the ones who could have had a few more goals but we got the three points and that’s the main thing.”
SOUTHPORT: Hurst; Challinor, Smith, George, Fitzpatrick; Milligan, Brown; Rutherford, Ledsham, Almond (Osawe, 58); Hattersley.
Subs: Stevenson, Flynn, Chambers, Irie-Bi.
HARRIERS: N Vaughan; L Vaughan; Gowling, Grimes, Jackman; Fowler; Byrne, Storer; Lolley (Angus, 76), Blissett (Malbon, 63), Morgan-Smith (Johnson, 60) Subs: Lewis, Tolley.
Referee: Darren Handley.
Attendance: 1.018 (143 Harriers).
Harriers star man: Josh Gowling.
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